TomTom Multi-Sport GPS watch hands-on review

We wrap TomTom's stripped-back sports watch around our wrist - but does it go the distance?

TomTom Multi-Sport GPS watch - intro

In the rather plush surroundings of the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam, TomTom has taken the wraps off two new GPS watches –the TomTom Runner and the TomTom Multi-Sport. We got our hands on the top-of-the-line Multi-Sport – but does it go the distance or fall at the first hurdle?

The Multi-Sport comes in two parts - a combined watch face and GPS module, along with a grippy rubber strap, for easy swappability. 

Sited underneath a four-way control pad is the GPS chip, positioned to point at the sky for an easy GPS fix. 

The watch unit is stiff and a little plasticky, but was comfy enough on the wrist in our short time with the device – though we can't help but wonder whether the GPS module will rub up against your wrist bone with prolonged use. It's a pretty tough little beast, if TomTom is to be believed – waterproof to 50m, with a high-contrast LCD screen tucked away behind Gorilla Glass.

Beneath the screen, you get a sturdy, clicky 4-way control button for navigating menus, while tapping on the right hand side of the screen turns on a (slightly wan-looking) light. In the dim environs of the Beurs van Berlage, it fared well enough, though how it'll cope with direct sunlight will have to wait for a full review.

More after the break...

TomTom Multi-Sport GPS watch - build

The Multi-Sport packs in an accelerometer and Bluetooth connectivity, for pairing up with a range of accessories including a heart rate monitor and cadence sensor. The accelerometer, TomTom promises, is sensitive enough to track your arms as you run on a treadmill and calculate your distance; it can even work out what swimming stroke you're using in the pool.

The top-of-the-line model also packs in an altimeter, while there's a (slightly flimsy-looking) rubber bike mount for cyclists.

TomTom Multi-Sport GPS watch - hardware and accessories

Tap that big button and the Multi-Sport pings up a menu offering running, treadmill, cycling and swimming options. The control setup is simple to use and responsive, with a little haptic feedback buzz as you cycle through the menu options.

A Graphical Training Partner provides a handy, at-a-glance measurement of your performance in three different modes: Race mode lets you compare your current exercise with previous efforts on the fly, showing how you're overtaking (or lagging behind) your earlier self; Goal mode lets you set distance, time and calorie goals and shows how close you are to working off that lunchtime Mars Bar; while Zone mode shows how you're performing relative to a goal pace or heart rate. Helpfully, the watch will buzz as you meet your goals, saving you from having to glance down mid-exercise.

Once you've burned off those calories, you can upload your data to MapMyFitness, RunKeeper, or any open-source platform – along with TomTom's own MySports service.

So is the Multi-Sport a champion runner or a wheezing old drafthorse? At first glance, it packs in some useful features – that big, bold screen and simple control interface are ideal for sporty types on the move – though why TomTom opted for a monochrome LCD display rather than a Pebble smartwatch-style E-Ink screen is a little puzzling. We also noticed the TomTom reps fumbling with that 4-way control a bit, though it seemed plenty responsive in our short time with the device.

The TomTom Multi-Sport is – obviously – somewhat out of its element at its launch, surrounded as it is by waiters carrying trays full of drinks – so a full appraisal of its sporting prowess will have to wait until we can get on in for a proper review.

Pricing and release date info have yet to be revealed, but expect the TomTom Multi-Sport – and its less feature-packed TomTom Runner sibling – to arrive in Summer.

 

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